“We just feel that the convenience of having an old-fashioned neighborhood store without having to walk through a half-mile of parking and a half-mile of space is what people need,” Arlan adds.
Arlan founded Arlan’s Market in 1991, and today there are nine branches – three in San Antonio, three in Austin, and one each in Schertz, Seguin and New Braunfels, Texas. Each location’s inventory includes meats, beer, wine, fresh produce, breads, pastries and seafood. Some stores also have a deli department that offers a variety of cheeses and sliced meats, as well as Arlan’s Markets’ own line of sausages. Flower arrangements and ethnic foods also are available at some Arlan’s Markets locations.
Bigger in Texas
In November 2012, Arlan’s Markets purchased six Handy Andy’s grocery stores in San Antonio to expand its presence in the second-most-populated metropolitan area in Texas. The company also acquired three City Market locations in the Austin region. Ames says the company is in the middle of remodeling these acquisitions along with retagging and reducing prices on more than 95 percent of the items.
Despite acquiring these locations with the intent to rebrand them as Arlan’s Markets, Arlan says the company will keep the Handy Andy workforce intact.
“We bought the corporation to keep all the employees and their seniority,” Arlan says. “Many of them have been there more than 20 years, so we would be losing a lot of people being as small as we were. But by buying corporations like Handy Andy and City Markets, it benefits us to make sure nobody lost seniority and, in return, we didn’t lose anyone.”
So far, Arlan says customers are more than receptive to the change in management at their local grocery stores. The company is breathing new life into these stores by remodeling them as well as lowering prices.
“When you can pull into the store that hasn’t had improvements in a long time and the prices are coming down, everybody is so appreciative,” Arlan says. “We want people to come in and feel comfortable. To some people, that is a very important thing.”
Despite its recent expansion, Arlan’s Markets has no desire to move away from the business model that has made it a success.
“We have some great locations that I feel like just haven’t been taken care of,” Arlan says. “We’re buying older stores, but we don’t have to do $700,000 to $800,000 a week to pay payrolls and make a profit.”
A Growing Family
Arlan says he looks forward to completing the remodeling of all of Arlan’s Markets’ new locations and continuing to grow throughout Texas. “I’m anxious to get all these stores remodeled and to continue to grow into east Texas as well as more into central Texas and further down south,” he says.
“I’m always looking for the next. I enjoy the challenges, and this is a big project with a lot of good people. By April and May, we’ll pretty much be 100 percent done with these stores and hopefully looking for our next project.”